Breaking down the biggest questions for each of the Bears’ seven selection slots in next week’s NFL Draft:
Pick 43 (from Raiders)
The big question: Will the Bears draft a quarterback?
The Bears have more immediate needs at starting cornerback and safety and are still lacking talent at tight end, wide receiver and guard. But big picture, there’s no greater question in all of sports than the one for which the Bears have no answer: Do they trust their quarterback to win them a championship?
If the Bears think Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Washington’s Jacob Eason or Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts could be that man someday, they must take him.
How they’ll answer: By drafting a cornerback.
Whether the Bears trust Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles to win a title or not, they certainly believe their defense can carry them that far. They’ll use their first pick to shore up the most glaring need on the depth chart: a cornerback to start opposite Kyle Fuller.
General manager Ryan Pace’s offseason moves all point to making a playoff push in 2020. Drafting a cornerback best fits that template.
Names to watch: The top available cornerbacks are expected to be TCU’s Jeff Gladney, Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene and Mississippi State’s Cameron Dantzler.
The big question: Will they trade the 50th pick?
The Bears don’t pick again until No. 162, a span of three rounds. The only way to change that is to trade down in the second round and gather extra picks.
Jimmy Johnson’s effective-but-crude draft-day trade-value chart presents a few potential matches, were teams motivated: the Titans’ second and third picks (Nos. 61 and 93), the Packers’ second and third (Nos. 62 and 94) or perhaps the Chiefs’ second and fourth (Nos. 63 and 96).
How they’ll answer: By trading down.
Pace likes doing it. He traded down in the second round twice to draft center Cody Whitehair in 2016. The next year, Pace moved down nine spots in the second round to take Adam Shaheen. The Cardinals sent a haul back: their own second-, fourth- and sixth-rounders, plus a 2018 fourth-rounder.
Names to watch: Wherever the Bears pick in the second round, a member of a historically deep wide receiver class makes sense. USC’s Michael Pittman, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault, TCU’s Jalen Reagor and Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool could be available.
The big question: Is Trey Burton’s replacement here?
Pace said this month the Bears “know we have some decisions we have to make across the board” to thin out their 10-person tight end room. Friday, he cut Trey Burton, who was hobbled by injuries all last season. Could Shaheen be next?
It still might not seem like there’s room for another tight end, but consider that none of the Bears’ top four remaining players — Jimmy Graham, Demetrius Harris, Ben Braunecker and Shaheen — is a lock to be on the 2021 roster.
In a thin tight end class, will there be one worth taking in Round 5? Or, if they trade back, Round 4?
How they’ll answer: It depends.
The fifth round is no time to be picky about position. But if they selected a tight end here, he’d be the third-highest-picked player in the tight ends room.
Names to watch: Stanford’s Colby Parkinson, LSU’s Thaddeus Moss and Purdue’s Brycen Hopkins might be around.
The big question: Time for a safety?
Since 2015, the Bears have used a Day 3 pick on safeties Eddie Jackson (Pick 112), Deon Bush (124), Adrian Amos (142) and DeAndre Houston-Carson (185).
How they’ll answer: By taking a safety.
This is the perfect time to get a strong safety to push Bush. It might not preclude the Bears from eyeing a veteran in the post-draft free-agent market.
Names to watch: Auburn’s Daniel Thomas, Ohio State’s Jordan Fuller and Notre Dame’s Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott should be picked in Round 6.
Pick 200 (from Eagles)
The big question: Want a camp arm?
The Jaguars found Gardner Minshew in Round 6 last year, but most teams swim in these waters to find a third-stringer who, with some luck, might improve.
How they’ll answer: By drafting one.
Pace has drafted one quarterback: Trubisky. He has to eventually take another one, right? With four choices in the last two rounds, he could even package two picks for one.
Names to watch: FIU’s James Morgan, Oregon State’s Jake Luton, Washington State’s Anthony Gordon and Hawaii’s Cole McDonald are long-shot lottery tickets.
Pick 226 (from Raiders)
The big question: Will they finally address the offensive line?
Bringing in former Seahawks tackle Germain Ifedi to play guard gives the Bears cover if they can’t find an offensive lineman in the draft. But they need help at guard and, perhaps next year, at tackle.
How they’ll answer: By taking the best O-lineman available.
The Bears could view Alex Bars, who went undrafted last year after having knee surgery, as their “draft pick” this year. They need a swing tackle, though — whether that’s Ifedi or someone they draft.
Names to watch: Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton is a lot like Whitehair — he played mostly tackle as a wildly successful collegian but profiles as a pro guard. Michigan’s Jon Runyan Jr. has the bloodlines — his dad played the O-line in the NFL for 14 years.
The big question: Will they get cute?
Pace likes to use his seventh-round picks on projects: 5-10 wide receiver Daniel Braverman in 2016 and wide receiver-turned-cornerback Stephen Denmark last season.
How they’ll answer: By skipping the projects this year.
The NFL’s work-from-home draft means the scramble for undrafted free agents will be more insane than ever, with general managers, coaches and scouts needing to coordinate who pursues which player. Simply drafting the player will be easier.
Names to watch: Running backs, inside linebackers and outside linebackers could fit on special teams and as practice-squad fodder.